Throughout the world, coastal resource managers are encouraging the restoration of previously modified coastal habitats back into wetlands and managed ponds for their ecosystem value. Because many coastal wetlands are adjacent to urban centers and waters used for human recreation, it is important to understand how wildlife can affect water quality. We measured fecal indicator bacteria (FIB) concentrations, presence/absence of Salmonella, bird abundance, and physico-chemical parameters in two coastal, managed ponds and adjacent sloughs for 4 weeks during the summer and winter in 2006. We characterized the microbial water quality in these waters relative to state water-quality standards and examined the relationship between FIB, bird abundance, and physico-chemical parameters. A box model approach was utilized to determine the net source or sink of FIB in the ponds during the study periods. FIB concentrations often exceeded state standards, particularly in the summer, and microbial water quality in the sloughs was generally lower than in ponds during both seasons. Specifically, the inflow of water from the sloughs to the ponds during the summer, more so than waterfowl use, appeared to increase the FIB concentrations in the ponds. The box model results suggested that the ponds served as net wetland sources and sinks for FIB, and high bird abundances in the winter likely contributed to net winter source terms for two of the three FIB in both ponds. Eight serovars of the human pathogen Salmonella were isolated from slough and pond waters, although the source of the pathogen to these wetlands was not identified. Thus, it appeared that factors other than bird abundance were most important in modulating FIB concentrations in these ponds.
Additional publication details
Fecal indicator bacteria and Salmonella in ponds managed as bird habitat, San Francisco Bay, California, USA